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Tesmole: Mexican Soup With Corn Dumplings

This tesmole recipe is made with chicken simmered in a hearty sauce with vegetables and corn dumplings called chochoyones. A traditional and authentic Mexican comfort dish that combines the nutritional value of meat and vegetables with flavorful chilies and spices.

Mexican chicken tesmole served on a turquoise deep plate.

What is tesmole?

Also known as texmole, this thick broth is a traditional dish, popular in the central and southern states of Mexico. Like many Mexican recipes, its name originates from the Nahuatl words “textli” (corn dough) and “mulli” (sauce).

What distinguishes tesmole from other similar dishes, such as mole de olla, is the addition of corn dough rolled into balls that are named chochoyones. A sort of corn dumplings that are cooked in the broth and help to give the right consistency to the dish.

Tesmole de pollo (chicken stew) with corn dumplings served on a turquoise plate.

In some versions of tesmole, instead the corn dumplings, corn dough (masa) is added and blended with other ingredients; potatoes or beans can also be used to give the broth a thicker consistency.

Variants

Oaxaca region:

  • “Mole Amarillo” (Yellow mole) is one of the most popular recipes. The name comes from the chili known as yellow chilhuaque hence the name Mole Amarillo. It can be prepared with different meats.
  • Poultry is one of the more popular choice of meat, often seasoned with hoja santa (piper auritum).
  • If made with pork, cilantro and hoja santa are the herbs frequently used.
  • If made with beef meat then the common choice is pitiona which is a popular herb in the region of Oaxaca and goes well with recipes using this type of meat.
  • Rabbit is often paired with avocado leaves, guajillo and chiltepe (bird’s eye) chilies.
  • Wait! There is more, this dish is so versatile that it matches everyone’s tastes, if you are vegetarian/vegan there is also a version that won’t disappoint you. Instead of meat, this dish can be prepared with pumpkin sprouts, corn, and then seasoned with chepil, an herb very popular in Oaxacan cuisine.

Tlaxcala region:

Texmole with Xolotitos: This recipe calls for “xolotitos” which are tender beans in a pod, guajillo chili, tomatoes, whole cloves and cinnamon. Instead of chochoyones dumplings, corn dough is added. This option is another favorite for vegetarians and vegans!

Veracruz region:

Tesmole with flor de izote: Different meats and spices can be used in this recipe. What makes it special is the inclusion of the izote flower, also called the yucca flower. It has been used since pre-Hispanic times and is a culinary delight. For this version, you prepare the izote flower in batter and make pancakes, tamales, or simply add it to the broth.

Shrimp Tesmole: Do you fancy some seafood? Shrimp seasoned with epazote and serrano chili are the main ingredients in this recipe. A little corn masa is added as a thickener.

Zongolica Region: In this region of Veracruz the ingredients can vary, the stew is usually thickened with corn masa.

Although the most popular recipes are made with mushrooms or poultry. Did you know that some of the most curious ingredients are consumed in this region? Some recipes include lamb entrails or even squirrel as the main ingredient!

Mexican tesmole served with chile de arbol and lime wedges on the side.

How To Make It

Place chicken drumsticks in a large stockpot and cover with about 1-inch of water. Add salt and bay leaves, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 25 minutes making sure to skim off any foam that comes to the surface.

Chicken drumsticks cooking on a pot.

Make the sauce

  • Boil tomatoes for 5 minutes over medium-high heat.
  • Turn off the heat, then add the guajillo chilies, pushing them with a spoon to allow them to soak well in the hot water. Leave everything to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Place tomatoes, guajillo chilies, onion, and garlic into a blender. Add 1 cup of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
The tomato and guajillo sauce blended on a blender.

Add sauce & veggies

Pour in the sauce straining through a sieve into the pot. Add all vegetables too.

Vegetables floating in the guajillo and tomato broth.

Stir and adjust salt to taste. If needed, add more water to the pot (read notes). Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Make the corn dumplings

Place masa harina, epazote (or cilantro) and lard on a medium bowl. Pour in water, then add salt. Using one had, mix all ingredients to combine and then knead for 1 minute to form a dough.

Kneaded corn dough with epazote on a glass bowl.

Pinch off a bit of dough with your fingertips and make a ball. Now, press with your thumb in the middle forming a small hole. Repeat the steps until you’ll make 8 dumplings.

A collage with 4 photos showing the preparation of chochoyones (corn dumplings).

Keep cooking

Now, add one by one the chonchoyes (corn dumplings) into the broth, but make sure you do this step very careful to avoid the dumplings from falling apart.

Added raw corn dumplings on tesmole.

Gently, make room in the pot to allow the dumplings to immerse well in the tesmole broth. Simmer for 15 minutes or until all ingredients are cooked through and the soup has become a little thicker.

Tesmole cooked on a pot. Seen from above.

Your tesmole is ready to eat. Serve it while is still hot with the toppings suggested below.

How To Serve

You can serve tesmole with just a squeeze of lime and chile de árbol. Or you can also add more toppings such as chopped onions, cilantro, and avocado slices.

Corn tortillas are always a good pairing, so any agua fresca, my favorite is tamarindo fresca, and agua de piña.

Useful Notes

  • You can replace guajillo chilies with 1 ½ tablespoon of guajillo, Anaheim, or Hatch chili powder. 
  • If it’s easier for you, use a kitchen scale and divide the dough before making the dumplings.
  • Make sure ingredients are always covered with liquid.
  • Add the dumplings carefully into the broth to prevent them from falling apart.
  • Is ok if a few dumplings fall apart, as far as are just a few! Those are the ones that will give a little more consistency to the tesmole.
  • You can replace fresh epazote with cilantro, dried epazote, or hierba santa.
A closeup on a cooked corn dumpling.

How To Store & Reheat

  • Place the leftovers in an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Or place on a freeze-proof container and store in the freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat the dish by thawing it first, then place in a pot and add a splash of chicken stock, reheat over medium-low heat.

Watch How To Make It

More Mexican Traditional Soups

Mexican tesmole recipe.

Tesmole: Mexican Chicken Stew With Dumplings

A earthy stew made with chicken, vegetables, and Mexican corn dumplings chochoyones, all simmered in a mild guajillo sauce.
PREP 20 minutes
COOK 1 hour
TOTAL 1 hour 20 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 large zucchini (cut into chunks)
  • 2 medium carrots (peeled and cut into chunks )
  • 2 small potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks )
  • 1 ½ cup green beans (cut into small pieces)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt (to taste)

for the sauce

  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 guajillo peppers (stem and seeds removed)
  • 1 small onion (cut in half)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)

for the corn dumplings

  • 1 cup masa harina (read notes)
  • 1 Tbsp lard (or olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh epazote or cilantro (chopped)
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  • Place chicken in a large stockpot and cover with water.
  • Add salt, bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
  • Allow to simmer over medium heat for 25 minutes occasionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.

Make the sauce

  • Place tomatoes on a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat.
  • Turn off the heat, then add the guajillo chilies, pushing them with a spoon to allow them to soak well in the hot water. Leave everything to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Place tomatoes, guajillo chilies, onion, and garlic into a blender (read note 1).
  • Add 1 cup of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Start the tesmole

  • Pour in the sauce straining through a sieve into the pot with chicken.
  • Add all vegetables to the pot.
  • Stir and adjust salt to taste. If needed, add more water to the pot (read note 2).
  • Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Make the corn dumplings

  • Place masa harina, epazote, and lard into a bowl. Pour in water, then add salt.
  • Using one had, mix all ingredients to combine and then knead for 1 minute to form a dough.
  • Pinch off a bit of dough with your fingertips and make a ball.
  • Now, press with your thumb in the middle forming a small hole. Repeat the steps until you’ll make 8 dumplings (read note 3).

Finish the tesmole

  • Carefully add, one by one, the masa corn dumplings into the chicken broth.
  • Gently stir to allow dumplings to immerse well into the broth (read note 4).
  • Simmer for 15 minutes until all ingredients are cooked through and the soup has become a little thicker.

NOTES

  1. You can replace guajillo chilies with 1 ½ tablespoon of guajillo, Anaheim, or Hatch chili powder. 
  2. Make sure ingredients are always covered with liquid.
  3. If it’s easier for you, use a kitchen scale and divide the dough before making the dumplings.
  4. Add the dumplings carefully into the broth to prevent them from falling apart.
  5. Is ok if a few dumplings fall apart, as far as are just a few! Those are the ones that will give a little more consistency to the tesmole.
  6. You can replace fresh epazote with cilantro, dried epazote, or hierba santa.
Nutrition
Calories: 504kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 490mg | Potassium: 1376mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 6653IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 5mg
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